FNB Maties came from behind to beat FNB UP-Tuks 41-24 and knock the defending champions out of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
The Stellenbosch side scored five tries in the second half to book a semifinal clash with Cape rivals FNB UCT next week, whilst the defeat sees UP-Tuks end a disappointing campaign down in sixth place after losing their last three games.
The visitors made a strong start to the game and it was not long before they drew first blood, with tighthead prop Basil Short crashing over after a powerful driving maul.
Maties responded by sweeping upfield with a flowing passing movement, but they could not find the finishing touch as the UP-Tuks defence held firm on their tryline.
Instead it would be the visitors to score next as wing Duncan Matthews cut inside after getting a good pass from scrumhalf Carlo Engelbrecht and he broke clean through the Maties defensive line to cross the whitewash.
That left Maties under some serious pressure at the first strategy break as they looked to fight their way back into the contest in front of their home fans.
However, UP-Tuks kept the hosts pinned in their own half with some good tactical kicking and a dominant performance in the set-pieces.
Maties were struck a further blow when centre Mark Hodgkiss was shown a yellow card for tripping UP-Tuks fullback Warrick Gelant just before half-time, and they went into the break with it all to do at 16-0 down.
The second half got off to a frantic start as both teams had early opportunities to score and it was Maties flyhalf Robert du Preez who capitalised as he skipped over for a try that cut UP-Tuks’ lead to 16-8.
They were level soon afterwards as a great pass from Du Preez found Craig Barry and he stretched to score, with Du Preez’s conversion making it 16-16.
There was no doubt that Maties had the momentum as the big crowd urged them on, and they hit the front for the first time when the ball was sent wide to Caleb Smith who finished well in the corner.
A Du Preez penalty just after the strategy break extended Maties’ lead to 26-16, leaving UP-Tuks with it all to do in the final stages to keep their play-off hopes alive.
They were right back in it when replacement prop Andrew Beerwinkel dived on the ball to score a crucial try after a Maties clearance kick had been charged down by Engelbrecht, with Schoeman’s conversion narrowing the gap to 26-24.
Maties marched into the UP-Tuks 22 as they looked to close the game out, and the killer blow was struck by Barry who ghosted through a gap to score the bonus-point try.
There was one last try for the hosts as a great run from Du Preez down the right touchline saw replacement Chris Smith cruise over to the delight of the crowd.
For FNB Maties:
Tries: Du Preez, Barry 2, Caleb Smith, Chris Smith
Cons: Du Preez 4
Pen: Du Preez
For FNB UP-Tuks:
Tries: Short, Matthews, Beerwinkel
Cons: Schoeman 3
Yellow card: Mark Hodgkiss (Maties, 38 mins – foul play)
FNB Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 John Durr, 13 Mark Hodgskiss, 12 Jacobus Jordaan, 11 Caleb Smith, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Tertius Daniller (captain), 7 Helmut Lehmann, 6 Justin Benn, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Nicol Heyns, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Wesley Adonis.
Replacements: 16 Neethling Gericke, 17 Niel Oelofse, 18 Ian Groenewald, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Jacobus Loubser, 23 Liam Hendricks.
FNB UP-Tuks: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Reniel Hugo (captain), 7 Rudolph Smith, 6 Chris Massyn, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Basil Short, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Arno van Wyk, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Jannes Kirsten, 19 Leneve Damens, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Kefentse Mahlo, 23 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Referees: Jaco Kotze, Rodney Bonaparte
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: Shaun Veldsman